You have heard that welterweights Manny Pacquiao 55-5-2 (38) and Timothy Bradley 31-0 (12) will meet in a rematch this coming April.
Pacquiao-Bradley II will be a widely anticipated fight due to Bradley's 12-round split decision over Manny back in June of 2012. Practically everyone who saw the first clash between Manny and Timothy felt that it was Pacquiao who deserved the decision overwhelmingly. And like most everyone else, I saw Pacquiao as the clear-cut victor without much room for negotiation. Due to the controversy over the decision, I went back and re-watched the fight a few times and saw it much closer but still in favor of Pacquiao. However, that score doesn't count. Until fight judges get to watch a bout two or three times before rendering a verdict, the only score that counts for anyone is the one you tabulate directly after the fight when you don't know the result.
So let me be clear, had I been a judge the night of Pacquiao-Bradley I, I would've submitted a scorecard in favor of Pacquiao by a wide margin, say 8-4 in rounds or 116-112. That said, upon watching the fight over I did see things that Bradley did that bothered Pacquiao more than it looked during the live broadcast. The thing that clouded matters was Manny was never hurt and Bradley wasn't as hurt or in as much trouble as it appeared the night of the fight.
This is something that is always the case when you watch the tape. Fighters always look more hurt and shook when it's live and you don't know whether or not they're going to survive the storm.
After looking at the tape without bothering to try and re-write history, it was easy to deduce that Bradley's hand speed, foot-movement and chin afford him the needed assets to befuddle and trouble Pacquiao. From a stylistic vantage point, Bradley is the most difficult fight out there that Pacquiao could take with the exception of Floyd Mayweather. Bradley at this time is riding a high regarding his confidence his sky-high, being that he has defeated Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov in his last three bouts. His style bothered Pacquiao, he out thought and out boxed Provodnikov and was too quick and elusive for Marquez.
In addition to that, Bradley rightfully feels that he hasn't received his due respect based on his body of work over the last two years, and he's right. Regardless of how good or bad you think he is, he hasn't been outclassed in 31 professional fights and he's been in there with every big name fighter except Mayweather. Timothy is still hungry for two things: 1) he wants his respect as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing and 2) he wants the lottery payday that comes with fighting Mayweather. If he can beat Pacquiao in April without much controversy, he stands a great chance to get Mayweather in the not too distant future. So you see that Bradley has all the incentive that he'll ever need to get ready and make sure he brings his A-game for Pacquiao on April 12, 2014.
On the other hand, Pacquiao needs to beat Bradley conclusively to show that he was hosed out of the decision the first time they met. Of course he's always in the mix for a fight with Mayweather which will eventually happen, but he must keep winning. His last fight against Brandon Rios didn't shed much light on where he's at as a fighter because Rios was tailor made for him. He'll have to be at his best to beat Bradley because Timothy's style will make things much tougher for him. Then again there is the thought by some that Bradley has been beaten up in his last few fights and that Manny may actually be the fresher of the two.
Of course the other question out there hovering over Pacquiao is, does he still have the killer instinct that he once had? It looked at times that he could've gone after Rios more when he was in trouble like he did Miguel Cotto back in 2009. But he didn't. Perhaps due to the cruel things that Rios said about Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach in the run up to the fight, maybe Manny wanted to punish Brandon for the duration of the bout once he realized early on that he was in command and could do whatever he wanted without putting himself in much peril. That's obviously a luxury and break that Timothy Bradley won't get from Pacquiao if Manny is ever in the position to take him out due to the aftermath and controversy following their first fight as to who actually won it.
Pacquiao-Bradley II is a legitimate PPV fight, and aside from fighting Mayweather will motivate Manny to really push himself as he prepares and trains for it. If Pacquiao is anything close to the supernova he once was, it'll be on display when he fights Timothy Bradley this coming April. It's a fight that should no doubt be well received.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@comcast.net